US-led forces have scaled back operations in Iraq on Saturday, as NATO announced it has suspended its training missions in the country, a day after a US strike killed Commander of IRGC’s Quds Force General Qassem Suleimani and Deputy Commander of Hashd Shaabi Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis on Baghdad international airport.
“Our first priority is protecting coalition personnel,” a US official told AFP, saying the coalition had “limited” their training and other operations.
“It’s not a halt,” the source said, adding: “We have increased security and defensive measures at Iraqi bases that host coalition troops.”
Surveillance efforts were now focused on potential new attacks instead of the Islamic State group, AFP added, citing the official.
Meanwhile, a NATO spokesman announced the coalition was suspending its training missions in Iraq.
“NATO’s mission is continuing, but training activities are currently suspended,” said the spokesman, Dylan White.
He also confirmed that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had spoken by telephone with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper “following recent developments.”
Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and other Iraqi and Iranian commanders were martyred in a US strike at Baghdad international airport early on Friday. The strike was ordered by US President Donald Trump, both the Pentagon and Trump said.